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October 23, 2018 Practice Management

Mindfulness 101: Work Better, Not Harder, in Three Easy Steps

By Debi Galler

Ever have “one of those days”? You have a big brief or contract or presentation due today, and you just can’t focus. Your mind has a mind of its own, and it is thinking about everything and anything but the task at hand. On top of that you have had a million work-related interruptions. You absolutely want to scream or pull your hair out.

Well, I just had one of those days—every lawyer, every person does. They happen. There is no escaping them. Even as a mindfulness practitioner, I still, on occasion, have them. Mindfulness is not so much about not having stressful days (it comes with the territory of being a lawyer) as it is about being better at dealing with them.

A recent study indicates that the average American worker wastes more than two hours per eight-hour work day, not counting lunch and breaks. A portion of that wasted time is from “spacing out”—in other words, not being on task, not being focused.

As lawyers, we are paid to be on task, focused, productive. So, what can you do when you are having “one of those days”? Here are three easy steps to get yourself back on task:

  1. Take a breath.
  2. Push yourself away from your desk.
  3. Stand up and take a walk (preferably outside).

Take a five- or ten-minute walk, and as you walk pick something to focus on. Perhaps it is your breath, or how your feet strike the ground, or the sights and sounds of where you are walking. When your mind wanders (and it will, particularly when it is acting like a toddler on a sugar rush), gently bring your mind back to focus on that which you have chosen to focus on during your walk—your breath, your feet, the scenery.

On your return, you will likely find yourself a bit calmer, more able to focus on the task at hand. As you journey down the mindfulness path, you may still have “one of those days” on occasion, but I think you will find they occur less often and with less severity. And now you have one more tool to help you focus.

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Debi Galler is general counsel for Green Street Power Partners (the company is based in New York; she works in the Tallahassee, Florida, office). She has an extensive background in real estate, as well as transactional and corporate bankruptcy matters. She writes and teaches on mindfulness. She may be reached at [email protected].